NEW ORLEANS – Jefferson Parish voters favor former Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman John Fortunato over current interim Sheriff Joe Lopinto in next spring’s sheriff’s race election, although a large part of the voting public is still undecided, according to a ‘robo-call’ survey conducted by the University of New Orleans.

Voters were asked whether they would vote for Fortunato or Lopinto, or if they didn’t know.

Among those surveyed, 44 percent said they would vote for Fortunato to just under 19 percent for Lopinto, but a whopping 37 percent were not yet sure.

The survey also broke down along east and west bank, male and female, under and over 35 and by race. While Lopinto showed up better in some demographics, Fortunato had a solid lead in all categories, often doubling Lopinto’s numbers.

The survey summed up the findings by noting that Fortunato enjoys a lot of familiarity as the long-time face and voice of the department. The election, next March, could also end up with other candidates, which, the survey says, would impact the poll.

The survey also gauged the public’s opinion on the job of current Jefferson Parish President Mike Yenni. Yenni had just under a 30 percent approval mark, with more than 45 percent saying they disapprove of the job he’s doing. One-fourth of the voters said they did not know.

The survey summation said Yenni would be vulnerable to a challenge.

According to the methodology, the survey, which employs automated voice messages and responses punched in on a phone, has a margin of error of nearly 5 percent. The survey sampled 426 respondents.

In addition the survey only makes calls to people with landlines and, while the survey starts out with a representation of the voting populace, hang ups and people who only have cell phones, can factor in to the accuracy.

The survey was conducted by Tony Licciardi, a research assistant at UNO’s Survey Research Center. Licciardi is a doctoral candidate.